A Family Tradition – The Nasmyth Family of Painters

With seven painters, one engineer, and the founder of Scottish landscape painting at the helm, the Nasmyths were considered one of the most accomplished families in nineteenth century Scotland. From a young age, Alexander Nasmyth’s children were encouraged to assist in the artist’s studio, and it was not unusual for them to paint cooperatively on one piece.

In this month’s British and International Pictures Auction we have three examples of the family’s output, one from Alexander (1758 – 1840) and two from his children; Charlotte (1804 – 1884) and Patrick (1787 – 1831).

A pupil of renowned portraitist Allan Ramsay (1713 – 1784), Alexander Nasmyth went on to become known as the father of Scottish landscape painting. Nasmyth celebrated the grandeur of nature with a human element, but always with careful consideration that it was our privilege to be a part of it.



Lot 57  - £1000 - 2000


Lot 57 is a much more intimate piece as compared to his grand vistas, but we can still see his dedication to landscape as a document, layering the foreground as the central arrangement, a technique he utilised frequently which saw the land stretch over the horizon. As with many of Nasymth’s pieces, the topography is richly painted and the inclusion of the pastoral figures presents us with a very idealistic view of Scotland, but the openness of the sky contrasted with the compact farmhouses creates a harmonious and balanced picture.

Nasmyth passed his knowledge and passion onto his children, most of whom painted in one form or another. Patrick was the eldest and followed in his father’s footsteps becoming a prominent landscape painter of the Home Counties. Influenced by seventeenth century Dutch artists, Patrick was also known to paint from life which give his paintings a freshness.


Lot 110 - £1500 - 2500


Lot 110 is a fine example of the artist’s output, demonstrating his keen attention to detail and skilful use of tone and colour in capturing the natural light in the sky and topographical surroundings. Patrick took pride in depicting the overgrown vegetation interspersed with lone figures and dilapidated farm houses. This is a considered and intimate scene which he excelled at, preferring these over the panoramic views of the land which was the most popular form of landscape painting at the time.

Of the six sisters, the most prolific was Charlotte who exhibited widely between 1831 and 1866 in establishments such as the Royal Academy, the Royal Scottish Academy and the Royal Society of British Artists.

Contemporary reviewers were frequently complimentary of Charlotte’s work, describing them as “little gems” and working “with a greater freedom and panache than her sisters.” Like her father, Charlotte celebrated nature.  Trees featured prominently in her work with special attention taken to highlight the gnarled trunks and exposed, winding roots.


Lot 133 - £300 - 500


Lot 133 is a fine example of her contribution to the genre of Scottish landscape painting, and has all the elements of the highly influential Nasmyth school, but with her own artistic touches.


Click to view the full illustated catalogue.>>

Jenny MacLeod


If you have pictures you wish to sell, please contact pictures@mctears.co.uk



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